Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Grady Patterson campaign is almost too painful to watch

Grady Patterson is an honorable man. His longtime service to South Carolina should be respected and Patterson deserves our thanks for that service.

However, the election this year is not about the past thirty-plus years, it is about the next four years. At age 82, Patterson is seeking to serve as Treasurer until age 86. I do not contend that Patterson can not serve the next four years. However, one way to prove that he can would be to debate Thomas Ravenel.

Ravenel is long on sound bites and short on substance. I think he tries too hard to be Ronald Reagan, when there can only be one Ronald Reagan. That said, there is little doubt that he has the health and ability to serve out a full term. Now that Ravenel has made clear he will not abandon the post to run for United States Senate, we can be assured he will at least serve a full term if elected.

An 82 year old candidate faces a different situation. Voters need to be reassured that he can do the job. The best way to reassure the voters is to debate Ravenel and make other public appearances.

The excuses for not debating coming out of Treasurer’s spokesman’s Trav Robertson’s office are almost comedic.

Also, the assertion by some Democrats that Senator Thurmond did not debate Elliot Close in 1996 and that is comparable, is wrongheaded. It shows marked ignorance of Mr. Thurmond. Thurmond did not debate anyone after his bitter campaign with Olin D. Johnston in 1950. Their debate in Newberry almost came to blows. Though I do not know what thoughts Thurmond had about such things, I believe it can be assumed that he recognized his temper and saw it best to conduct campaigns without debates. It should also be noted that Thurmond’s 1996 campaign was vigorous. He went around the state making public appearances and speaking. I know that because I was part of that campaign and saw firsthand Thurmond in action. The Senator did not hide behind spokesmen or the like. He spoke to party and community club meetings and made the rounds, so to speak.

Indeed, I did not have the same feelings about Thurmond in 1996 that I have now about Patterson. I am sad to watch this unfold. Grady Patterson is a man I admire and respect, without apology to any of my fellow Republicans who might criticize me for such. I hate to see this last campaign of his unfold as it is. Patterson’s name and reputation still might carry the day in November, but even if it does, this campaign appears to be one too many.

As a basketball fan, I offer an analogy from the NBA. Most people, even casual fans, know of Michael Jordan. Jordan left his then team, the Chicago Bulls, in the perfect manner, hitting the winning shot for the championship. Then, Jordan played one season too many with the Washington Wizards. Watching Jordan try to do what his body could not longer allow him to do was painful for a fan of his.

What boggles my mind is why the Democrats in South Carolina, who surely must be bigger fans of Mr. Patterson than I am, don’t have the same pain watching Patterson go one campaign season too many. Indeed, why did they talk Patterson into this last ride, when he had nothing to prove and could have gone out on top, so to speak?

Maybe Mr. Patterson will debate Ravenel and clean his clock in the debate and make me look like a fool. But, I doubt it. It is my guess that for someone who respects Mr. Patterson, this campaign will be almost too painful to watch.


  1. It amazes me that the same Republican party that shielded Strom Thurmond for twenty years now has the audacity to raise age issues about Grady Patterson. Any time Strom's age and ability was questioned, it was deemed "classless" or in poor taste. Now that Strom is gone, apparently the rules have changed. And while this attack on Grady goes on, South Carolinians are not supposed to notice the Republican's own aging Adjutant General Stan Spears, who by the way, also refuses to debate his opponent.
    I personally do not think Grady should debate Ravenel. The Treasurer position requires studied, well thought responses not quick witted verbal jousting skills as the type show cased in a debate. I believe a series of published positon papers would be more applicable to the job, without giving Ravenel the opportunity to gain any credibility by standing on the same stage as Grady Patterson.

  2. To say that the Patterson campaign has been totally listless is incorrect: Trav Robertson has been running around the state like a madman, and has received a fairly warm welcome whereever I've seen him. But, as we all know, TV is the key to modern campaigns, and a major candidate needs a presence there to be viable.

    Grady Patterson has every right to refuse to debate, but I think someone needs to act as his representative in a debate with Ravenel. I don't doubt that a good spokesman could absolutely clean Ravenel's clock, but it won't happen if the Patterson campaign doesn't even try.

  3. frank - i don't doubt your claim that patterson's campaign manager has been burning up the miles to keep his day job.

    but where is grady patterson? isn't he the candidate?

    i can imagine the fun the Dems would have if the roles were reversed and Ravenel was nowhere to be seen, ducked debates, and sent his campaign manager forward to campaign as his proxy.

    if the man can't run, then why IS he running?

    as for anon - i've seen general spears out at plenty of campaign appearances this fall, and strom was a regular presence on the campaign trail during his 1996 re-election.

    that's the big difference - if patterson, or anyone else, is so infirm as to be unable to campaign, then the humane thing to do is allow them to retire with dignity, respect and honors.

    if it turns out that patterson was pushed into running this year, and ends up dying mid-term, without a chance to rest on his laurels, those responsible deserve to be tarred, feathered, flogged, and run out of the state.

    and if such people should choose to stay and run for anything, republican, democrat, or independent, if need be, i will crawl on my hands and knees to campaign against them.

  4. Brian,

    Take a closer look at Ravenel's quote in the Greenville News. He definitely hasn't ruled out a 2008 Senate race. He merely said that "his intention" was not to run. That little expression has a LOT of wiggle room.

  5. As for the Thurmond reference, I think addressed that in my post.

    Also, Laurin, T-Rav would catch all types of hell if he ran after that interview.

    I dont' care for T-Rav's "I am trying to be Reagan" approach, but I think the guy was trying to be honest. Suppose Graham decides not to run for re-election?